Rugby Union: Australia edge 33-28 win to extend Wales' misery

Wales' George North is tackled by Australia's Michael Hooper (right) during their Autumn International rugby union match at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Nov 8, 2014. Australia edged Wales 33-28 to extend Wales' losing streak to southern
Wales' George North is tackled by Australia's Michael Hooper (right) during their Autumn International rugby union match at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Nov 8, 2014. Australia edged Wales 33-28 to extend Wales' losing streak to southern hemisphere teams to 21 at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on Saturday. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

CARDIFF (AFP) - Australia edged Wales 33-28 to extend Wales' losing streak to southern hemisphere teams to 21 at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

The Wallabies' victory stretched their own winning streak over Wales to 10 matches since 2009 and the result was the ninth successive time the winning margin was in single digits.

In a World Cup pool dress rehearsal, it really was a game of two halves, with the teams going in at half-time locked at 21-21 having each scored three converted tries, virtually unheard of in professional rugby.

Australian fly-half Bernard Foley finished with a personal tally of 18 points as he booted three second-half penalties and a nonchalantly-taken drop-goal to Wales' converted penalty try.

"It was a squad effort today," the faultless Foley told BBC. "The guys were relentless in their efforts and it was a true team effort."

Wales coach Warren Gatland dubbed the result "frustrating", adding: "I'm not happy with the result, but I'm happy with the performance.

"We missed two one-on-one tackles and they've scored and then we've thrown an intercept pass.

"We showed a huge amount of positives, there's a lot of things to build on."

While the opening 40 minutes made for an entertaining match, it certainly was not one for the purists, both sides offering wave after wave of attack while the defence was at best run-of-the-mill, at worst completely porous, notably down Wales' right flank.

An electrifying start saw Rhys Webb open the scoring in just the second minute, a perfect beginning for a Welsh side whose last victory over a SANZAR side came in a 21-18 win against the Wallabies in 2008.

The scrum-half, preferred to benched Racing-Metro veteran Mike Phillips, dummied a static Australian defence from a ruck set up after a break by skipper Sam Warburton and darted over from the 22m line, Leigh Halfpenny kicking the conversion.

Australia came roaring back, the towering figure of full-back Israel Folau crossing for a try between the posts after irrepressible flanker and captain Michael Hooper busted Dan Biggar's tackle and managed the offload.

Foley hit the extras and was on target again five minutes later when, with Wales pressing, Folau intercepted an ambitious Webb pass and sprinted 80m for his 17th try in 26 Tests since crossing codes from rugby league.

Wales drew level almost immediately after George North, playing in the centre instead of his preferred wing position, split the defence and played in winger Alex Cuthbert in a simple two-on-one for a try Halfpenny converted.

But the drama was not over as Australia turned over Halfpenny, who immediately went off concussed, and span the ball left, Fiji-born centre Tevita Kuridrani easily busting an attempted double tackle from lock Alun Wyn Jones and Cuthbert to cross for a third Wallaby try in 15 minutes.

Jones was on hand to wrap up a see-saw half when he burrowed over from close range to justify Warburton's decision to spur two kickable penalties. Biggar converted to leave the sides tied at 21 points apiece.

After a frenetic first-half of six converted tries that would have left both teams' defence coaches pulling their hair out in despair, Foley opened the second period with a penalty.

With the attacking endeavours of the opening period beginning to show, the pace slowed and the rhythm was further disrupted by a raft of replacements.

Foley hit a second penalty in the 56th minute after more Welsh ruck indiscipline to stretch the visitors' lead.

Veteran winger Adam Ashley-Cooper, playing his 101st Test to match Wallaby great David Campese, was on hand with a great tackle to hold up North over the line.

But South African referee Craig Joubert eventually called time on a number of resulting dominant Welsh scrums, awarding a penalty try against Australia for collapsing one too many times.

Rhys Priestland converted to hand the home side a 28-27 lead with 15 minutes to play.

Wales sat back and defended, but while they gave no penalty away, replacement scrum-half Will Genia found Foley in the slot on the Welsh 22m line and the Wallaby fly-half sent a drop-goal soaring through the posts to regain the lead and added another penalty to extend Welsh SANZAR woes.